Last week's episode of Supernatural, "Abandon All Hope..." was jam-packed with action and heartbreak. Lucifer is back, engineering a mega-slaughter in Missouri, and the brothers find a strange ally in a homoerotic demon.
Written by Ben Edlund, this story was full of beautifully weird moments juxtaposed with plot developments that were sometimes a bit unsatisfying. On the side of beautiful weirdness we have the introduction of the demon Crowley (Mark Sheppard being his usual over-the-top self), who forces homophobic banker to make out with him to get a magical bailout - as you can see in this great scene I excerpted for you above. Angel Castiel and the Winchesters have been trying to find Crowley because he's got the enchanted Colt gun, which could be the only weapon on Earth capable of snuffing Lucifer.
To the good guys' surprise, Crowley is more than willing to hand over the Colt. He wants Lucifer dead as much as the humans do. As Crowley explains, Lucifer just thinks of the demons as servants - once he's wiped out humanity, he'll go for demons next. This is a nice little moment that solidifies the unexpected alliances emerging from Armageddon. Human good guys actually have more in common with demons in this fight than they do with angels. The angels, after all, are the people who worked to set off Armageddon in the first place. The only creatures who want to stop the "planetary enema" are good humans and independently-minded demons like Crowley. (And possibly God, if he's still around anywhere; and possibly Jesse the comic-book loving Antichrist who is hiding in Australia figuring things out - but let's leave those subplots aside for now.)
Armed with the Colt, and tipped off that Lucifer is getting freaky in Carthage, Missouri, the boys go on a killing mission with Castiel and fellow hunters Ellen and Jo. Right before things get seriously bad, Bobby insists that they all take a picture together, to commemorate the gang's togetherness before the world ends. It's another weird beauty moment, the six of them posing uneasily before a timed-release camera, looking for all the world like a gang of rednecks rather than a group so badass and holy that they can stop the apocalypse.
There are two crucial developments in Carthage. First, in a move that I'm sure pissed off a lot of fans, Ellen and Jo are killed in a particularly lame way. Jo is mangled so horribly by one of Lucifer's hellhounds that she's dying. Knowing she's doomed, Jo volunteers to do a suicide bomb deal, staying behind in a hellhound-infested warehouse so she can push the detonator and get the hounds while the rest of them stick the Colt in Lucifer's face. But then Ellen, Jo's mother, refuses to go. She decides to stay behind and die with Jo.
Why do they let her? Armageddon is on, and they can't afford to lose a Hunter with as much power and experience as Ellen. Everybody has lost multiple people they love, Bobby has lost his legs, and yet the rest of them soldier on. If any other character (ahem, male character) had tried to kill himself in such a stupid way, everybody would have ridden his ass about how he needs to set aside his grief to stay in the fight because there are bigger issues at stake than losing a child. The whole world could go to hell! And yet when Ellen decides to sacrifice herself for NO REASON, the brothers are like, "Oh, OK." I love Supernatural to bits - it's really one of my favorite shows ever - but Ellen's death just rang false. There is no way the good guys would have let such a valuable Hunter sacrifice herself. Her death was just shabby plotting.
Then there was the mind-blowing, fascinating stuff that happened in Missouri. While Ellen stupidly sacrificed herself, Castiel managed to get himself caught in a holy fire trap set by Lucifer and his henchman of the day, Meg. We haven't seen Lucifer in a while, and he's looking a little scabby. Apparently his meatsack isn't holding up very well - only Sam is a strong enough vessel for him. While Lucifer is giving the old "why don't you join me we're two rebel angels" speech to Castiel, he lets slip an interesting tidbit. "When I'm gone, you're going to be [Heaven's] public enemy number one," he says to Cas. In a sense, he's right. They are the only two rebel angels who've been cast out of Heaven - well, there is also Anna, but we're not sure what's up with her right now.
The point is there's something really intriguing about the idea that if the boys kill Lucifer and stop Armageddon that Castiel would in essence become the new Lucifer figure for Heaven. Not that he would necessarily become evil, but that he would be the powerful Fallen Angel who defied the will of Heaven by stopping their scourging plans. The idea that Castiel could easily be painted as a Lucifer-like figure is just another sneaky way that this episode overturns conventional ideas of good and evil. We already know that most of the angels are dicks. If you had to choose an afterlife ruled by the dicks, or one ruled over by Castiel, which would you pick?
Luckily you don't have to answer that question yet because (surprise) it turns out that the Colt doesn't work on Lucifer. It knocks him out for a few seconds, but he's immune. So after the brothers confront him, and Sam gets another version of the "hey I was a surly younger brother who lost a father too why don't you join me" speech, Lucifer is able to continue with his nefarious plans. Which involve slaughtering a bunch of demons as an offering to Death - one of the horsemen of the apocalypse. Castiel escapes his holy fire trap just in time to zap the brothers to safety while Lucifer grins and says, "Hello, Death."
So I think you know which Horseman will be visiting us when Supernatural returns next year.